Survival In A Soda Can: Part II

afrankelSurvival, Urban Survival Skills

As discussed in the article on how to build an Alcohol Stove, Fire is the third most important survival element in Tom Brown’s “Sacred Four.” Fire does several things to help keep you alive in a survival situation.

First, fire is used to purify water. Bringing water to a rolling boil will kill bacteria in the water that can cause you illness. Second, fire can cook any meat procured through hunting or trapping. As recommended by the USDA, the minimum internal temperature for meat to be safe is 145 degreesF. Third, fire dries wet clothes. In a cold environment, dry clothes can by themselves mean the difference between life and death. Fourth, fire warms the soul. Survival is largely a mentality; people have persevered through extreme situations largely because of their mental state. Fire’s primal warming of the spirit helps maintain a good mental state in a bad situation.

Soda Can Fire Starter

When polished to a mirror (or near mirror) finish, the concave bottom of a soda can may be used to magnify the sun’s rays, similar to that of a magnifying glass. With some patience and steady hands, you can use it to start a fire.

You will need:

  • 1 Soda Can
  • 1 small piece of chocolate or anything with a little wax in it.

Follow these steps:

  1. Take a piece of chocolate or anything will a little wax in it and smear a light coating on the concave bottom of the soda can.
  2. Take a piece of cloth and begin rubbing the bottom of the can in a circular pattern.
  3. Keep rubbing until the bottom of the can gets to a polished finish.


  • If available, use 0000 steel wool, baking soda, toothpaste, or scouring powder to start, it will go considerably faster. Switch to a wax-based substance such as chocolate, crayon, or candle to complete the polishing process.
  • As with all fire starting, ensure that you have a good sized pile of fire building material before you begin trying to make a fire, and keep it close by.

To use your starter:

Create an Equilateral Triangle between the reflector, the sun, and your tinder. Adjust the reflector by tilting it up and down, closer and further, until the reflected sunlight forms a pin point of light on the tinder. Hold it steady and do not remove until you have a small flame.

This will take time and is an excellent patience-building exercise. In a survival situation, the tedious and meticulous task of polishing out the bottom of the can also helps keep your mind occupied and focused.

Part III of the series on Survival In A Soda Can will address food.



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